FAQ: Part One

Do you ever wonder…

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Or why equality and equity aren’t exactly the same thing?

Q: What is Diversity?

A: Diversity is simply “all the similarities and differences amongst people.” Diversity is the term for the entire spectrum of human differences, including (but not only) race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, disability, military experience, physical attributes, attitudes, beliefs, religious faith, ethics, and even political beliefs. Recognizing and embracing diversity lets us remove barriers to understanding each other and ourselves.

Q: What is Inclusion?

A: Inclusion is an active management strategy. Inclusion is a purposeful effort to make different people from diverse groups comfortable in working and/or studying together.

Q: What is Belonging?

A: Belonging is the sense that you fit in, that you’re welcome where you are, and that the people around you are happy to work with you and not just tolerating your presence.

Q : Is diversity, inclusion and belonging another way to say affirmative action?

A: No, it isn’t. Affirmative action defines a legal concept of redressing past racial inequalities, using quota systems and set-asides. Diversity, inclusion and belonging are terms that describe a balanced approach to creating a welcoming working and/or student environment.

Q: Isn’t this critical race theory?

A: No, it isn’t. Critical race theory is a term that describes a legal framework that is taught in law school. It is not a term to describe any discussion of race at all.

Q: What is the difference between equality and equity?

A: Equality is the concept of sameness of resources regardless of need, whereas equity is the concept of taking different needs into account in order to achieve fairness. Let’s say, for example, every student in a classroom needs a desk chair. In an equal distribution, every student would get the same type of desk chair, regardless of whether they are left or right-handed, or able to write with a pen. In an equitable distribution, the classroom would have enough desk chairs for the left-handed students as well as for the right-handed ones, and desks big enough for those who need to use a keyboard.

Q: But I am not racist, why do I need this?

A: We never call anyone racist! It never hurts to be considerate, and it costs nothing to be nice. Our work is intended to provide a variety of information and histories to keep in mind when you encounter someone who is different from you. Knowing how to interact with people with kindness will smooth the way for everyone, including us.

Q: Is there a class system?

A: Yes, Virginia*, there is a class system in the United States. This is a dirty topic that is both “complicated and subtle” (Fussel, Paul). When the different classes are asked, “If there is a class divide?” The upper class reacts by expressing it is about values, ideas, taste, styles, blood lines and proper behavior regardless of monies or education. The lower classes explain the divide by the amount of money you do or do not have and lack of privilege they experience in medical care, education, employment, incarceration.  The middle-class panic on this question for fear of dropping a few rungs and believe their place is determined by monies and educational levels. So simply explained: Classism is a socially constructed system of oppression which “privileges the wealthy and elite and discriminates against those with less wealth, especially the poor and working classes, and those with less prestige” (Adams, Glenn).

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